January 13th, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just this past Saturday, Rudy, my therapy dog and I were invited to speak at the Waterford Public Library in Waterford, CT. I had prepared a careful outline of the stories I wanted to share about both Bella, my first therapy dog, and Rudy, my current therapy dog who took over after Bella died in 2018. Having done this for a while, I knew there might be only a handful of people there, and that if I were lucky, I’d sell a few copies of my book about Bella:  “Joy Unleashed:  The Story of Bella, the Unlikely Therapy Dog.”

Three children and eight adults showed up. One little girl was terrified of Rudy and screamed if he even looked at her. The second child was Sean, shown in the photo below. And the third was a boy of about eight, who had Autism. I read a short passage from my book about Bella’s work with cancer patients, and could see the kids squirming. The room we were in was in the basement of the library right under the children’s room and Rudy, who is sensitive to noise, started to shake-I think he thought it was thunder– and tried to hide behind the chairs.

Things were not going well. That’s when it dawned on me I had to sit down on the floor with Rudy, comfort him and tell the group about his past, how I trained him and work he does. But best of all, Rudy loves to do tricks, so before my talk ended. the two boys got down on the floor on their hands and knees and Rudy jumped over them. The little girl who had been terrified, fed Rudy treats. And the tricks helped Rudy forget about the noises overhead. I sold one book and laughed all the way home. And every time I look at this photo, I realize that it’s really smart to let go of plans and be ready for wonderful surprises.

PSean Morrison, 16, of Waterford visits with Rudy and his therapy dog handler Jean Baur on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, before Baur reads from her book 'Joy Unleashed' and talks about her therapy dogs at Waterford Public Library.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Photo from Dana Jensen, The New London Day, January 12, 2020.

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